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Posts Tagged ‘Intermediate Lifting Program’

CrossFit: Nothing New

In Training on August 13, 2012 at 9:57 pm

It seems to me that when CrossFit is poorly planned and haphazardly applied, it’s accused of being a dangerous wreck, but when it’s smartly implemented as part of a focused training program, it’s suddenly an innovative, cutting-edge approach to athletics.

Recently, I came across this video about the training regimen of MMA athlete George St-Pierre. It shows St. Pierre using gymnastics to work on his strength and agility. He uses O-lifts to hone his explosive power. There are also shots of him doing sledgehammer strikes and plyometric jumps. What are these techniques if not the same components of CrossFit? With all this Olympics press, I noticed everyone fussing over Ryan Lochte’s “unconventional training” methods. He does tire flips and keg throws. He tests his vertical jump. Actually, this isn’t new and remarkable. This isn’t innovative and unconventional. CrossFit isn’t even new.

Athletes have a long tradition of borrowing training protocols from other sports. Tabata intervals were invented long before CrossFit. “Cross-training” appeared long before CrossFit. CrossFit founder Greg Glassman simply tacked a name to something coaches have been doing for their athletes for a long time now. It’s not “dangerous” and “crazy” if done correctly, nor is it some revolutionary new system. It’s just that CrossFit suffers from poor quality control and some gyms do haphazardly incorporate techniques for which their members aren’t prepared… but, correctly implemented, it can help a middle-aged working mother get off her couch, it can help a 16-year-old football player get faster, bigger, stronger, and it can help MMA champions up their game in the ring. It’s just about thoughtful program design.

But designing programs for a CrossFit box has its own unique challenges. Whereas most athletes at a boxing gym are probably training to be competitive (even if just in a recreational sense), the members of a CrossFit gym are often more diverse than that. A lot of CrossFit boxes have competitive hopefuls as well as desk jockeys just looking for a good workout or to lose a little weight. Is there a way to design an overarching program that can cater optimally to both extremes? Or do boxes have to find a strange middle ground that doesn’t fully serve either individual? Or, is it appropriate for the individual to take his/her goals into his/her own hands? For the competitive athlete to stay after WODs and work on skill and technique? All this thinking about programming has really developed in me an admiration for people who do this well.

Speaking of programming, it is at last time for me to move on. I thank Justin of 70’s Big for his strength and conditioning program that helped me add 60 lbs to my deadlift, 25 lbs to my squat, 20 lbs to my clean, and 20 lbs to my press. My lifts, however, have slowed or stalled on everything and I feel that this strictly linear progression isn’t working for me anymore. I’m trying to decide on an intermediate lifting program that suits my needs. Here’s my evaluation of where I am:

– I like that I’m stronger, but I’m actually about 10 lbs under where I’d hoped to be for each lift, so strength is still important to me… but I’m no longer tragically below where I want to be.

– I like that I’m stronger, but I’ve lost my ability to carry that intensity into my new strength. I fatigue a lot quicker during WODs. I think there’s two reasons for this: 1) I’ve entirely avoided long WODs/metcons for the past five months, and I’m not accustomed to anything that demands endurance anymore. 2) Being able to lift more means that these lifts are now more demanding for me, and I’m not accustomed to carrying that intensity for multiple reps

– I can do a lot of movements, but can’t link them smoothly. My toes-to-bar and knees-to-elbow involve a weird half-kip between reps, and I max out at 8ish butterflies before I lose the rhythm and start swinging wildly. When I’m tired, that number’s closer to 3-5.

– I still don’t explode. I lift slowly… I’m not aggressive enough in my movements and I just… somehow have difficulty recruiting all my strength potential in a single movement. I often feel like I still have something left in the tank, I just don’t access it at the right moments.

I’d like to think that CrossFit Strength Bias can help me with that. Particularly, I appreciate this snippet from the CFJ article:

So, for the CrossFitter who has a need or desire to get much stronger much more quickly, who is unable to decrease his time on a benchmark “girl” because he just can’t move the weight any faster, or just can’t do the “hero” WOD “as Rx’d” because she can’t lift the weight, we introduce CrossFit Strength Bias.

That’s me. I can Rx Fran, but I don’t even want to test my time because the weight would have me moving much slower than the intense, sprint-like movement that the programmers had in mind. I have a slight misgiving about CFSB in that it doesn’t work the power clean– and I’d like to, in order to both build on my technique and to work on my explosive power… but I think people have successfully incorporated it before. I’m thinking about subbing it in for the front squat day. Anyway, I’m going to be finessing the details of my regimen in the past few days, and I’m sure I’ll update you on that. Another “wild card” for me is that I know I want to participate in Penn State’s powerlifting open and to do that I intend to train a little bit with the powerlifting team and I’m not sure how that will work/what sort of training I’ll do with them…

Anyway, happy Monday to everyone.